Poor oral hygiene can lead to gingival inflammation, eventual bone loss around the mouth and possibly tooth loss. It is important to sustain good home oral hygiene in between your visits to the dentist in order to maintain a healthy mouth. A toothbrush, toothpaste and floss are the basic tools you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy for life. Mouthrinses can also provide additional benefits.
Tooth Brushing – 2 min daily
It is best to brush morning and night, and flossing once a day. Knowing how to brush your teeth correctly is the first step to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Studies have shown that brushing twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste effectively reduces the risk of tooth decay and bone loss more than brushing only once a day.
A soft bristled brush is recommended for tooth brushing because harder bristled brushes have the ability to damage the tooth’s enamel and cause or worsen the effects of gum recession. Brushing too hard damages gum tissue, causing the gum to recede and even damage the sides/root surface of teeth.
Below are some tips on how to effectively brush your teeth
- Using a gentle circular motion, angling the brush 45 degrees up into the gums.
- Don’t scrub.
- Allow your brush to do most of the work, without you applying too much pressure.
- Use a routine when brushing to prevent you from skipping any areas.
- Make sure you brush each surface of the tooth.
- Remember to brush your tongue.
- And last but not least, change your toothbrush every 3 months.
An electric toothbrush has the aptitude to create that ‘dentist just clean’ feeling. Unlike a manual toothbrush, an electric toothbrush has the advantage of the powered bristles which enables for a much deeper clean for your teeth and gums. Electric toothbrushes also encourage people to brush for the whole 2 min – there’s a timer on most models. The round, small head helps the brush to reach those ‘hard to get to’ places. Whilst an electric tooth brush is beneficial for everyone, it is especially effective for people struggling with manual tooth brushing to efficiently remove the deposits they are missing.
- Angle the head 45 degrees into the gums.
- Move the toothbrush 1 tooth at a time – slowly.
- Wait for the 2min timer to go off.
- Change the head every 3mths or after an illness.
Flossing – daily
The use of dental floss is just as important as brushing as it removes the plaque and the decaying food remaining between the teeth. This food decay and plaque cause irritation to the gums, allowing the gum tissue to bleed more easily. Acid forming foods left on teeth also demineralise tooth eventually causing cavities. As toothbrushes don’t have the ability to brush between the teeth, it is important to floss once a day to remove these deposits your toothbrush is unable to reach.
- Use a slippery floss if your teeth are tight together
- Do not snap or saw the floss
- Gently guide the floss between the teeth, wrap around the tooth and slide the floss up/down the side of the tooth – making sure you’re flossing under the gumline.
- Your gums may bleed/hurt initially (because of gingivitis) but the more you floss, the less they’ll bleed.
Tongue Cleaning – daily
It’s a great habit to get in to everyday. You can use your toothbrush to clean your tongue, but it’s best to use a proper tongue cleaner – we can show you what they look like. Tongues do harbour bacteria and this bacteria often produce a volatile sulphur compound. This often causes bad breath or halitosis. When scraping your tongue, it’s best to try to reach the back part of your tongue, where most of the bacteria tends to collect. This may be difficult, especially if you have a strong gag reflex.
There are many different types of mouthrinses on the market today and they vary in effectiveness. Most people do not need to use one, but if you like the feel after using a rinse then try to buy an alcohol free one with fluoride. If we feel you would benefit from using a particular rinse, we will suggest it to you at your appointment and advise you of the best place to buy it.